Asian Shares End Mixed Amid China Fears

Asian stocks ended mixed on Thursday, with Chinese and Hong Kong markets underperforming on concerns over strict Covid lockdowns and waning confidence in China’s property market.

Overall gains were modest elsewhere ahead of the ECB meeting, where a rate hike is expected for the first time in more than a decade.

Investors breathed a sigh of relief as natural gas started flowing through a major pipeline from Russia to Europe after a 10-day shutdown for maintenance.

The Japanese yen gyrated against the dollar after the Bank of Japan maintained its ultra-loose monetary policy and raised its inflation forecast.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index closed 1 percent lower at 3,272 on economic worries. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index tumbled 1.5 percent to 20,574.63.

The Asian Development Bank has cut the growth forecast for China, citing concerns over the country’s zero-Covid approach and strict lockdowns.

Japanese shares finished modestly higher to extend gains for a sixth straight session after the central bank stood pat in its monetary policy decision, defying a global wave of inflation-fighting rate hikes. The Nikkei 225 Index rose 0.4 percent to 27,803, while the broader Topix closed 0.2 percent higher at 1,950.59.

Seoul stocks advanced for the second day running as falling oil prices helped ease concerns over inflation. The Kospi jumped 0.9 percent to 2,409.16, marking the highest level since June 28.

Market behemoth Samsung Electronics surged 2.2 percent and leading chemical firm LG Chem soared 5.4 percent. Hyundai Motor ended on a flat note despite reporting a 59 percent increase in second quarter profit.

Australian markets finished higher, led by financials and tech stocks. Miners and energy companies lost ground on persisting concerns about the Chinese economy.

Link Administration Holdings surged 12.6 percent after it agreed to an increased takeover offer from Dye & Durham.

The benchmark S&P ASX 200 Index rose 0.5 percent to 6,794.30, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended 0.6 percent higher at 7,018.40.

New Zealand shares advanced as investors cheered encouraging earnings reports from the U.S. The benchmark S&P NZX-50 Index climbed 0.6 percent to 11,269.76, with Meridian Energy, Mercury and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare rising 2-3 percent.

U.S. stocks rose overnight as earnings of more companies came on expected lines, helping offset signs of a slowdown in the housing market.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite surged 1.6 percent after a positive forecast from Netflix, while the S&P 500 gained 0.6 percent and the Dow edged up 0.2 percent.

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